Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Brockville students create ‘curiosity carts’ for Aquatarium

Photo provided by UCDSB

The Aquatarium has been collaborating with students from the Thousand Islands Secondary School (TISS) to share their love of learning with the Brockville community and beyond. 

The Aquatarium, located in the Tall Ships Landing building in downtown Brockville, is a nonprofit interactive science and education museum, which celebrates the history and biodiversity of the 1000 Islands region. This collaborative relationship was initiated last year when a Grade 7 class from TISS embarked on a project to construct three curiosity carts for the Aquatarium.

Bridgette Buchanan, education manager for the Aquatarium, shared that “the partnership began with the students’ visit to our facility, where they were introduced to our exhibits and past curiosity carts. Inspired by their experience, the students chose themes for their carts—St. Lawrence Fish, Earth vs. Mars, and solar eclipse—reflecting their interests and imagination.”

Buchanan explained that the “curiosity carts are portable exhibits at the Aquatarium that enable our staff and volunteers to delve into detailed discussions with guests about our featured exhibits and animals.”

The students have been working diligently alongside the experienced Aquatarium team members to bring their visions to life, and received guidance and feedback throughout the process.

“Students got to work building out their carts, using both the examples of our past curiosity carts and support from the education team,” Buchanan detailed. “The Aquatarium was able to go into the school mid-way through the projects to ensure that each cart had a clear storyline and goal.”

On Monday, June 10, the Aquatarium brought the eager students in for a mock setup of their carts in anticipation of their official launch, which took place on Thursday, June 13.

In a press release issued by the UCDSB, Grade 7 teacher Shannon Owsianicki shared, “A big part of real-world learning and the outcome you hope for is that the kids actually take something from the process, having honed a skill that they didn’t have before. Things they really haven’t had a lot of opportunity to do in the classroom, and I do feel like they will take this learning with them going forward.”

The hardworking students from TISS were present at the Aquatarium on Thursday to introduce their projects and answer questions from friends, family and Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) representatives.

Buchanan told Brockvilleist, “The energy was very high for both the students and us organizers. I was told the students practised their scripts and talking points a lot so they were ready. Speaking with them at the event, it was so awesome seeing their faces light up as they told me about their role in the project.”

These three curiosity carts will be on display for visitors to explore, offering an immersive experience in science and discovery throughout the rest of June.

“Once June has passed, we will have a display poster that will have photos and QR codes that will link to the students’ projects,” Buchanan explained. “This poster will go alongside previous Real World Learning partnerships that have been done with UCDSB.”

Buchanan expressed her excitement at pursuing future collaborations with the local school board, stating “At the intersection of education and real-world experience lies a unique partnership between the Aquatarium and the UCDSB. Our shared vision is clear: to equip students with invaluable skills that extend far beyond the confines of the classroom. This is an ongoing program that I look forward to continuing and growing.”

To plan a visit to the Aquatarium, visit

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